This was a statement actor Daniel Craig made in front of the media the day he was presented to the world as the newest James Bond, and he couldn’t have been more on the nose about what he needed to do with his version of the globetrotting super spy. Before he signed up for the role, the Bond franchise was in a bad spot. Coming off one of the worst films in the franchise in Die Another Day, the character had run its course in the traditional mold of being a dashing, snarky, playful 007 that started with the Sean Connery and Roger Moore era and bled over to Timothy Dalton and then Pierce Brosnan. So in stepped Craig, who over the last fifteen years, brought a darker, edgier, relatable hero to the screen. With his five-film run, he’s left a legacy that should be considered as the best to ever put on the tuxedo and drink martinis.
So, with the release of his final turn in No Time to Die, below are the rankings of his films he delivered to this iconic character.
5. Quantum of Solace (2008)
In many forms of entertainment, the ‘sophomore slump’ can be a term used to describe the second outing of something that isn’t as good as the first. This is the case for Quantum of Solace, the direct follow-up to Casino Royale, which finds Bond chasing the organization known as Quantum, who held power and control over the lost love of his life, Vesper Lynd. In doing so, he uncovers a plot involving the water supply of the Bolivian Government, and how Quantum’s tentacles can reach on a global level. Written on the fly during the writer’s strike of 2007-2008, the spark of the Craig’s first outing wasn’t anywhere to be found in this project. Even without the strike, there seemed to be no way to save this misstep. Between its lackluster Bond girls, villain, story, and action sequences, Marc Forster’s Quantum of Solace earns the status of being the worst of Craig’s Bond films. The only thing saving grace of the film is the wrap up of Vesper’s loose ends, which serves as a closure for Bond and a way for the franchise to move on.
4. Spectre (2015)
In another follow-up to a great entry within the Bond franchise, this entry stumbles as well to reach the heights of its predecessor. This time though, it’s because Sam Mendes’ Spectre tries too much, and only succeeds in a few areas. In being a direct follow up to his hugely successful Skyfall, tying in all the events of the past three films, and being a conclusion of the Daniel Craig era, it’s a failure. But as a Bond film that builds on the lore of old with cheeky nods to all the previous films in the franchise mixed spectacular action and gorgeous locations, it’s hard as a Bond fan not to give this movie a little bit of a pass. Sure there is a lot of plot problems but it’s such an entertaining mess, almost as if Craig and company were making their best version of a Roger Moore Bond film set in modern times, and for that, it’s better than Quantum of Solace.
3. No Time to Die (2021)
It’s always hard to say goodbye, but with Cary Joji Fukunaga’s No Time to Die, Craig sticks the landing in delivering the satisfying ending he and Bond fans have wanted to see. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it took a long time to see this Craig entry, but the moment you see it, it is clear that this is the version of Spectre everyone wanted to see, in that it ties up everything from the past fifteen years in a beautiful bow while also being a thrilling standalone mission with plenty of spectacular newcomers helping Craig end his time as Bond. In my review of the film, it states Craig “is as charming and confident as he is vulnerable” in No Time to Die as he is in any Bond film so far, and he deliveries “a real tender iteration of his version of Bond.” Only time, and multiple viewings, will tell to see if No Time to Die climbs up the ranking, but for now, it’s a very solid number three on this list.
2. Casino Royale (2006)
There is nothing like seeing the adrenaline rush that is Martin Campbell’s Casino Royale. I remember seeing this film in a theater in 2006, with my leg in a brace due to a torn ACL in my leg, and within the first twenty minutes, as Bond is chasing a bad guy through Madagascar, I wanted to go run a marathon. This jolt of energy was not only felt by me but by audiences everywhere as it clearly showed that Craig’s statement at the beginning of this piece was correct, he changed everything about Bond and the spy genre forever. We see Bond forge the beginning of his career as 007, going toe to toe with the cunning Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), as well as falling in love the intelligent, gorgeous Vesper Lynd (Eva Green). From beginning to end, it is the best first film by an actor taking over the mantel since Connery’s Dr. No. and set the benchmark of what was to come within the Craig era.
1. Skyfall (2012)
There are moments in every franchise where you clearly see a turning point. After Casino Royale, no one could probably believe we could see a Bond film be elevated to a place beyond. In steps Skyfall, which is the modern masterpiece in the 007 franchise. The middle installment in the Craig era finds Bond at a crossroads with his role within MI6. Presumed missing in action, he is the most physically and emotionally wounded we’ve seen up to this point. The world might have moved passed James, and not only does he have to deal with his future as a double 0, but to find those answers, he must explore his past, and even go back to his childhood home by the end. Craig is fantastic as well as Judi Dench in her final performance as M, and of course, you can’t go without mentioning one of the best Bond villains of all time in Silva, a former agent looking for revenge against M, played brilliantly by Oscar winner Javier Bardem. Throw in Roger Deakins’ incredible cinematography, Sam Mendes directorial flare, and an all time, Oscar-winning Bond song by Adele into the mix, and you have something downright special.
No Time to Die, the final Daniel Craig as James Bond film, will be released by MGM this Friday, October 8 only in theaters.